While I have three grandparents who are Jewish, my mother wasn’t raised Jewish. For a long time, I struggled with that, wondering if I was Jewish. When I came to UNC Hillel, the staff and other students were very supportive of me and they supported my Jewish identity. At Hillel I learned that Jewish values reflect my own values. I learned about Jewish teachings and morals that inform my own choices and my passion for human rights.
Through Hillel, Judaism has become a huge part of my life. Hillel has given me important opportunities like organizing the Tree of Life vigil on campus in the fall and just recently, leading a trip to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders. These experiences have helped me grow as a person and a leader.
Hillel also provides an open space to talk about Israel with people of all backgrounds. Real dialogue is very rare on campus, especially when it comes to Israel. There is a tendency towards demonizing Israel in student-to-student interactions and student-to-professor interactions. Even in other Jewish communities it’s hard to talk about it because it’s so charged. But at Hillel I can have honest conversations with people who agree or disagree with me.
If you want to do something in the Jewish community, Hillel is here to support you no matter what it is - politics, human rights, education. For example, in the fall I’m going to conduct research about anti-Semitism on campus. Through a grant from the Psychology Department and with the support of Hillel, I plan to create interventions and support groups for students to process anti-Semitism.
I am so grateful for the help of people like you, who make our Jewish community possible.
Nick Rosenthal, UNC-Chapel Hill, December '19
Major: Biology and Psychology
Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island